Chapter 9 Monday
Monday morning at 10 am House entered the hospital. He hadn't slept well and was less eager to see Cuddy again than he should have been.
He went to her office and sat in front of her, in one of the visitor's chairs. He scratched his head, pensively.
"Hi, Cuddy. How was your weekend?"
Cuddy lifted her head and smiled. "Don't make me talk about it. At least it's over. On the plus side, I got impressive reports about your performance in Baltimore. Particularly about your clear high-level lectures and, incredibly, your politeness at the final reception."
House smiled back. "I guess you're surprised. Wilson made me behave well." He scratched his head again, this time a bit longer.
Cuddy narrowly eyed him. "House... did you do it?"
"Do what?" He scratched his head. It felt itchy.
"Buy and use the lice shampoo. I told you in my first phone call that Rachel got lice at daycare."
House gasped. He knew of course when and why he missed this information. Now he had to make sure Cuddy didn't realize it. "I... I didn't think it was important. I thought it's a children thing."
"Children pass lice to each other because they are physically very close when they play. I probably caught them by keeping Rachel in my lap and having her head against mine."
"But I had a sore throat the week before Baltimore. I didn't come to your house, I didn't even see Rachel at all."
"You saw me, House. Up close and personal. It's basically the only way lice migrate among adult humans."
"I... uh..." Now that he thought of it, he had been scratching his head a bit often recently.
"Don't worry, I have found a very efficient shampoo. Just don't get near me until you've used it." She wrote the name on a sheet of paper, which he pocketed.
Someone knocked on the door. "Come in!" said Cuddy. Wilson came in with a stack of administrative reports, which he dumped on her desk.
"Hi, you both. Here you are Cuddy, as you can see Oncology works well even when the Head is away."
"Thank you very much, Wilson. And even more for the great job you did last week."
"Don't thank me. You know, I'm used to taking care of House." As usual, Wilson expressed his embarrassment at the compliment by scratching the back of his head. Only, this time he kept scratching.
He then scratched a bit also over his ears and added, in an apologetic tone: "I think the hotel shampoo didn't agree with my scalp. It's been increasingly itching in the last few days."
"I think I know what your problem is." Cuddy said, looking for something in her handbag. "Wilson, can you please sit down? Let me have a look." She walked around the desk until she stood behind him; she then first parted his hair with her fingers, then combed through it for a while. Finally, she put a white, fine-toothed comb on her desk. There was one tiny dark spot on it. It was moving. She returned to her seat, after moving her fingers briefly through House's hair.
"It's not a shampoo problem. You have head lice." Cuddy's tone was calm and even, the mild satisfaction in it of a doctor having come to a final diagnosis.
Wilson looked at it, still incredulous but unable to deny the living proof still moving in front of his eyes. "Why would I have head lice? And how would you know?"
"Don't worry, you got them from House. He was scratching before and I now checked that he has nits on his hair. It's all Rachel's fault, really." She looked at Wilson with a saucy smile. "I wonder what precisely the two of you were doing together to have your heads so close. I hope you didn't take my request to replace me in caring for House too literally?"
House laughed effortlessly at the joke. But then he noticed that Cuddy wasn't smiling anymore. Her eyes had opened wide, and she was staring at Wilson. He turned around and looked at him, too. The oncologist had turned waxy pale, and his facial expression was basically the equivalent of a "guilty as charged" written on his forehead.
"Wilson, did you have sex with my boyfriend last week?" Cuddy's eyes looked like blue-green diamonds, shining through Wilson's face and conscience. House saw him open his mouth to try and lie, then close it again as the now intense redness of his cheeks, throat and ears rendered such an attempt futile.
Cuddy started speaking again, her tone raising almost at every syllable.
"So let me see if I understand what happened. I couldn't accompany you, House, and you decided that Wilson could replace me in all roles I usually play? Or was this already a habit? Wilson, how long has this been going on exactly? What did you both think you were doing?"
She didn't give either of them a chance to interrupt. Her voice became even higher. The door was not closed, and by now people were standing silent in the corridor outside and listening.
"I don't care a damn if two of my Department Heads want to fuck each other. It's your right and none of my business as Dean of Medicine, so long as it doesn't interfere with your work. The only thing which bothers me is that one of them is my boyfriend, and the other a friend of mine!"
She briefly caught her breath, and resumed speaking at a slightly lower tone, although one still clearly audible for the growing group of listeners a few steps from the door.
"Luckily, both these problems can be solved. As from now, House, you are no longer my boyfriend. I'll have your stuff delivered in your office later today. Don't ever address me again except on professional matters."
"As for you, Wilson, I trusted you. I won't in the future."
She had kept her composure so far, but anger and jealousy overwhelmed her. "And now out of here, both of you pigs! I want you to take a free day today, because I can't stand the sight of either of you and I have work to do! And you're both spending the next weekend in the clinic! OUT!"
What was now a crowd around Cuddy's office had to beat a hasty retreat to avoid the sudden exit of the two Department Heads. They went straight to the elevator and came back together a few minutes later, Wilson now in his street clothes, workbag in hand, and got out of the hospital, in the direction of Wilson's car.
"I'm sorry, House. It was all my fault."
They were back at Wilson's condo, and its owner was sitting on the couch, his head in his hands. Normally he would have felt humiliated buying and using lice shampoo but in his sorrow he hadn't even noticed.
"If I had been able to just keep my face straight and laugh, nothing would have happened. Now I've hurt both of you. I'm so stupid."
House wasn't sitting. He was standing near the window, looking out.
"I had promised Cuddy wouldn't know and then… I was so upset by a stupid louse I completely lost control." Wilson was close to crying now. "I'm sorry."
Two strong hands cupped the sides of his face, forcing him to look into a pair of blue eyes. "Shut up. The only stupid thing you did was accepting my offer."
House's hands were gone, he was sitting on the couch nearby. "I have been as obsessed with your body since that night as you with mine. I told myself that it was just an itch I had to scratch."
"No. Today I would have told Cuddy I needed time off from our relationship."
"To think about what I want. What I really want."
Wilson looked up with a hopeful smile. "Does this mean…"
"If you still want it, after what I've done last week, we can try."
He didn't think his recent behavior made him deserve happiness and love. But the brown eyes looking at his clearly told him that he was about to get what he did not deserve.
Epilogue: Two months later
The Johns Hopkins University is proud to announce that Dr. Gregory House, former Head of Diagnostics at PPTH, has accepted an appointment as Head of the newly created Diagnostics Department of the University Hospital.
Dr. House's life partner, Dr. James E. Wilson, former Head of Oncology at PPTH, has in the same occasion accepted an appointment in the Oncology Department in the same Hospital.
Author's note: this fic stemmed from my desire to write a sick!Wilson story with a disease which I was an expert of, together my desire to make House hurt Cuddy (a side effect of the Huddy arc). Many people, including my beta reader, objected against a cheating House. To me, he seems only human: he was even sleazier in the unbeta'ed version. That's what people do when they are in a relationship and fall in love with someone else. Even people like House, and this includes pretending it's just sex. The last conversation has been added in the hope of clarifying things a bit and is unbeta'ed.